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An update from the office of
U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts

Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE

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March 7, 2008

Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement

I have been working for the past two weeks to garner support for my proposal to create an independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) with a goal of holding a vote in the House soon. You may recall that Speaker Pelosi appointed me to chair the bipartisan Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement, which was asked to explore whether to create an independent ethics enforcement entity to supplement the work of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (commonly known as the Ethics Committee). Democrats on the task force released a report in December, which recommends the establishment of the OCE. You may read our entire report, including recent amendments to the resolution, and an opinion piece I wrote on the subject for Roll Call newspaper, on my website at www.house.gov/capuano.

I strongly believe that an independent entity will greatly increase transparency and end concerns about the 'old boy network'. The resolution incorporates a number of critical elements, from involving non-Members in the review of ethics matters, to requiring the Ethics Committee to make a public statement on most matters referred by the new entity.

I am hopeful that the House will soon take action on H.Res. 895.

Hedge Funds

Last week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on hedge funds that I requested, along with two of my colleagues on the Financial Services Committee, Chairman Barney Frank and Capital Markets Subcommittee Chairman Paul E. Kanjorski. The report concluded that hedge funds have improved their risk-management and disclosure practices in recent years, but still represent a source of risk and should continue to be monitored.

I think the GAO report illustrates that even with the combined expertise of all the relevant regulators, we still lack the data necessary to judge the full risks associated with hedge funds. Congress should follow the recommendations outlined by the GAO to continue to vigilantly monitor hedge funds.

My colleagues and I have asked the GAO to conduct a follow up study as part of an ongoing effort to determine if additional legislative and regulatory reform should be considered.

Energy

On Wednesday February 27th the House considered H.R. 5351: the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008. This legislation extends and modifies several energy-related tax credits, authorizes the issuance of $5.6 billion in tax-credit bonds to finance renewable energy and energy conservation efforts, creates a new tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and allows utility companies to recover the cost of "smart" electricity meters over a 5 year period. H.R. 5351 offsets the cost of these incentives in several ways, including preventing the largest oil companies from qualifying for domestic production deduction, and it freezing the deduction at its current 6% rate for smaller oil companies. I voted YES. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

219

8

0

4

REPUBLICAN

17

174

0

7

TOTAL

236

182

0

11

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

Parity in Health Insurance Coverage

On Wednesday March 5th the House considered H.R. 1424: the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation, which never even received a vote in previous Congresses despite efforts of countless outside advocates and broad support from Members on both sides of the aisle. The legislation establishes full parity for mental health and substance abuse disorders. If an insurer offers mental health benefits then those benefits cannot be treated differently from physical benefits. For example, co-payments and deductibles must be consistent. H.R. 1424 also requires insurers to offer comprehensive coverage. They cannot cover some mental health and substance abuse disorders, while denying coverage for others. The Senate has passed similar legislation, and the two bills will now move to conference. I voted YES. H.R. 1424 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

221

3

0

7

REPUBLICAN

47

145

0

6

TOTAL

268

148

0

13

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

What's Up Next

Next week the House might consider H.Res. 895, my resolution establishing an independent Office of Congressional Ethics.


Congressman Mike Capuano
8th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services
Committee on House Administration

District Offices:

110 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
and
Roxbury Community College, Campus Library, Room 211

District Office Phone:

(617) 621-6208

DC Office:

1414 Longworth Building, Washington, DC 20515

DC Office Phone:

(202) 225-5111

Website and e-mail:

www.house.gov/capuano


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